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Five Common Myths about Heart Health

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Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Hawai’i, but often it is not recognized as the
greatest health threat. Stereotypes get in the way and can be misleading. Symptoms of heart disease are
not always glaring and obvious. Pump up your heart health knowledge by separating fact from fiction by
exploding these five commonly held myths.

Myth #1: Heart Disease is A Man’s Issue

A man clutching his chest while having a heart attack is the typical stereotype, but heart disease is the
leading cause of death for both men and women. It is responsible for one in three deaths of women,
which is about one death each minute.1 It kills more women than all forms of cancer combined.2 Women
are more likely to have unique symptoms (e.g. not experience crushing chest pain), which can be easier
to dismiss.

Myth #2: Heart Disease is a Health Concern for only those who are Later in Life

The risk of heart disease will increase as you age, but many lifestyle choices made today have a lifelong
impact. Plaque can start building up in your arteries at an early age. Risk factors for heart disease,
including obesity and type 2 diabetes, are becoming more common earlier in life.3 The American Heart
Association recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked by age 20.4 Tracking your blood
pressure during routine visits can also help stay on top of your heart health and prevent heart disease
later in life.

Myth #3: Heart Disease Affects All Hawaiians Equally

Heart disease is a serious health concern for all, but the rates are four times higher among Native
Hawaiians.5 There are increased rates of coronary heart disease, angina, history of heart attacks, and
heart attack deaths. Native Hawaiians are typically diagnosed with heart disease and stroke at an earlier
age.6

Myth #4: Heart Disease is Inevitable for those with a Family History of Heart Disease

Risk factors for heart disease include those that you can control and those you cannot control. Medical
history and genetics cannot be controlled and may place you at a higher risk. However, there are many
opportunities to impact your heart health and reduce your risk. These include eating a balanced diet,
staying physically active, getting plenty of sleep, limiting stress, and monitoring important health
numbers.

Myth #5: A Heart-Healthy Lifestyle is Expensive and Time Consuming

Small daily changes in your lifestyle can lead to a big impact for the health of your heart. When eating a
balanced diet full of fruit and vegetables, be sure to consider fresh, frozen, and canned options. A
backyard garden is a great way to gather more affordable fresh produce. Incorporate physical activity
multiple times a day, in shorter time intervals to make it more attainable. Schedule movement breaks
during the workday and reduce the amount of time spent sitting.


1 https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/facts/common-myths-about-heart-disease
2 https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/facts
3 https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/consumer-healthcare/what-is-cardiovascular-disease/top-10-myths-about-cardiovascular-disease
4 https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/facts/common-myths-about-heart-disease

5 https://newsroom.heart.org/news/native-hawaiians-lowered-blood-pressure-with-hula-dancing
6 https://www.heart.org/-/media/Files/Affiliates/WSA/Hawaii/Coordinated-HHSPFINALWEB-HAWAII-92021.pdf

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